Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Champion on a Champion - Serena On Rafael Nadal

by Savannah

Serena does something her critics say she never does - praise another player.

Rafael Nadal
By Serena Williams

I have never seen such tenacity, such ambition, such fight and such honor go into every shot as when I watch Rafael Nadal.

I want to be like him. The attitude he exudes the moment he walks out on the court is the attitude of a true champion. A champion whose desire to win is the same as the desire of a lion to eat. Stalking his prey with force and speed, Nadal, 22, has already become one of the game's all-time best.

What is so unusual about Rafa (which is what he likes to be called) is that unlike many of his fellow Spaniards, he can dominate on all surfaces. He has never lost a match on the French Open's clay, but he also has a Wimbledon title to his name, as well as one from the Australian Open. This year he's the only man able to go for a true Grand Slam.

What makes him so good? I think it's that he's the hardest worker. The last one to leave the court, the first to arrive. The one who falls asleep studying, the first to rise. It's not easy being a champion; you don't just wake up and — bam! — you're No. 1. It takes work, effort, desire, dedication — all qualities that Rafa has. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am far off.

From Heroes and Icons - Time Magazine

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

The Importance of Links
I'm a fan like everyone else. I read fan sites and appreciate that tennisheads are very often the ones who make sure news of interest gets out to the rest of us.
I'm also a stickler for links. If someone has done their work and puts out an interview or makes a blog post it's nice for them to get the satisfaction of seeing people read and hopefully comment on their work.
Yesterday I had a problem with one of the interviews I posted. A fan site posted an interview with Mashona Washington that I wanted to share. The problem was that there was no link to the source. It was obvious the fan who posted the article was not the author but there was no link or acknowledgement of where the interview came from.
I ended up linking to the fan site that posted the interview hoping that the author would find out about my post and contact me. She did. Shelia, who runs sent me a message asking for acknowledgement. I posted her request, and my response, with yesterday's post. I had already, via other sources, found out that it was her interview and changed the link prior to her contacting me.
It's not up to the webmaster/s to make sure their members provide links. It's up to the fans who post work that is not theirs to make sure the author gets his or her props. This is a pet peeve of mine and I knew posting the interview the way I did wasn't the right thing to do.
If you click on the link now you will end up at Shelia's site and a very nice site it is.

Gorilla Ball

Franklin L Johnson posted the following comments in response to Victor Lamm's blog from last week that was commented on here.

...While there's little doubt the play on various surfaces has become more standardized, this result can't be completely blamed on surface similarity.

A cynical reader of the facts could say the homogenization of surfaces has returned. Mr. Lamm himself duly noted our sport, at one time, was largely played on grass and only occasionally on slow clay. This clear lack of variety benefited the English, Aussies and Americans. So, is it any wonder most of the winners of the majors, pre-Open Era, were from these three nations? The very fact tennis is played on so many different surfaces today, both in and outdoor, seems to require a different kind of athlete than the grass grazers of yesteryear.

...surface standardization alone isn't responsible for much of the boring play on tour. Explosive power, produced by state-of-the-art training, diets and gear, place a greater emphasis on defensive skills and less on point production brilliance. Roger Federer is brutally beaten into submission by the younger, stronger Rafa Nadal. His exquisite game is never allowed to blossom on court. When Roger is forced by the sheer ferocity of Nadal's shots to abandon his skills for a defensive shell, it seems we should all be very alarmed. When a supreme dirt-baller starts winning Wimbledon, it's clear something isn't right in our sport.

Again, the problem isn't only the equalizing of surface speed.(...)However, it can be successfully argued there's little subtleness in pro tennis today because the players aren't taught how to use it.
Unfortunately, it seems the Roger Federer era was more accident than evolution. While the facts bear this out with the return to gorilla-ball, an optimistic perspective envisions a more glorious than infamous future.

Gorilla ball?! Don't get me started. I'm simply tired of biased thought being presented as deep thinking. Johnson's points about the need to instruct juniors on how to play the game is valid. The rest of his remarks fall into the category of cant and not analysis. Maybe Mr. Johnson should read Steve Tignor's blog post about Barcelona. Gorilla ball indeed.

Fed Cup Update

The pressure is on Venus Williams and Serena Williams to say definitely, right now, that one or both of them will play the Fed Cup final in November. If they don't they're just proving themselves to be selfish and unconcerned with the fate of the United States in international team play. Isn't it ironic that the Williams sisters are vilified in the tennis press for not living up to what reporters think should be their priorities but when the chips are down everyone beats a path to their door pleading for their assistance.

I'm sorry but it's the end of April/beginning of May. November is light years away in tennis terms. I don't think that Venus and Serena will be stampeded into a decision.

The Weather
It's raining cats and dogs in Rome. Forecasts vary as to whether the weather will allow the tournament to be played. I wonder what would happen if a M1000 event is rained out? There are three ATP 250 events next week. When could they reschedule? Would they?

End Note

In a legal battle over the handling of his finances, the court heard Hewitt has complained his then-management team, Octagon, failed to make enough money for him – including not investing in Lehman Brothers, a U.S. firm which spectacularly collapsed last year.
Octagon is suing Hewitt for undisclosed millions for loss of merchandising and management fees.

It claims Hewitt breached his exclusive representation contract with them.

In response, Hewitt claims Octagon botched his financial plans and owes him up to $300,000 in lost investment opportunities.

Uh, okay Lleyton.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

I came across some interesting interviews over the weekend. One is with Mashona Washington and is very entertaining. The others are with young Indian phenom Yuki Bhambri and pro veteran Igor Andreev.
I'll say upfront that Mashona was not asked about the recent vandalism issue but she does reveal a lot about herself, about the world of women's tennis, and how she sees herself.

Shelia: Hello Mashona, thank you for consenting to do this interview for Black Tennis Pro’s, I appreciate it.

Let’s start with some current issues in tennis, one of the most prominent being the recent resignation of WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. Do you think that the WTA benefitted during his tenure?

Mashona: Yeah I think so, but it’s hard to speak specifics because I haven’t actually played full time on the tour since I was injured in ‘06, so I really haven’t been able to experience all of the pluses that he has brought to the tour.

After having been injured, you’re missing the tour meetings and while they send newsletters, I haven’t kept up as well as I should because I wasn’t playing that much, so it didn’t affect me. But he has had a lot of positive contributions, I’m sure.

Shelia: One of the things that Scott has talked about with reference to his decision making process to leave, was the rejection of his proposal to merge the two tours. Have you ever given any consideration to their being a single combined tour?

Mashona: I think that would be a great idea because I’ve found that when our tours in general are combined with the men’s events the quality of our tour - our tournament - is automatically raised because we just get a lot of the amenities men get. They get so much more in terms of ... sometimes I think if they came to one of our tournaments and had to deal with some of the things that we did, like with our - maybe amenities - or just some things that we get, they’d be like, oh my god!

You know, they’re really spoiled. We’re still spoiled, but I had two brothers that played on the men’s tour, so I could go with them and see all of the things that they are offered. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a lot of great things that are offered to us.

I think it’s a great idea, it makes tournaments more fun. You don’t have to see the same players all the time, or just women. I think it’s a great thing.
Shelia: Now, on another issue that has been making noise recently, the new drug testing rules which dictate that players must inform testers of their whereabouts for a period of one hour of everyday for a period of a week - how hard is that?

Mashona: Well, I haven’t really experienced that. When I was outside the top hundred I thought it was interesting that I was probably drug tested once, maybe twice; but as soon as I was in the top hundred, I was drug tested probably like eight or nine times in one year.

Shelia: Interesting....

Mashona: Now, it could be coincidental, yes. Or it could have just been, as they say ‘random.’
Shelia: When I read what some of the other players had to say about this new rule I felt for you all, I wouldn’t want to be so subjected.

Mashona: Sometimes it can be the last thing that you want to deal with. When I come off the road - my first three or four days - depending on how long I’m on the road, say six, seven, eight weeks, then the first two or three days - two days for sure - I’m like, in the bed. I don’t take any phone calls, I just want to be a vegetable. I want to just walk my dog in the park and that’s it. I don’t want to do anything.

Like I said, on the other hand, if that’s what it takes, I mean if you don’t have anything to hide, its just the way it is to catch the ones that are doing something.

The only unfortunate part is, you have like one person and it’s like the ‘lucky loser’ rule or the rule for the qualifiers. Because of a past issue, now it’s no longer the highest ranked player who gets in the draw. Now, there’s a draw and anybody who loses can get in.

Shelia: So, there’s no specific criteria within those who have lost during qualifying of who will become the a lucky loser?

Mashona: Okay, so you have qualifying, and you have four people that qualify, let’s say it’s a 64/32 player draw, you’re going to have four qualifiers - then each of the four players that lost in the final round of qualifying; then say there’s somebody in the main draw that withdraws, leaving a lucky loser spot, then one of those four can get in - a lucky loser.

So, in essence, it used to be where the highest ranked loser in the final round of qualifying would take that lucky loser spot, but because a couple of players on the men’s tour, they kind of did the math and they were saying ‘hey, I already know I’m going to get in and if you want to get in too, give me a little bit of your prize money and we can call it a day. I’ll throw the match so you can get in, I already know I’m going to get in....’ And so they would kind of cheat a little bit - get people in and get a little extra money.

So they changed the rule that if you lose in the final round of qualifying, then it’s pure luck of the draw. They take the four that lost and pull their names out of a hat. I don’t really think it’s that fair - you’re the highest ranked player, you should get in. They do that on the ITF and USTA events, they’re not doing that on the tour. Well, I think they did that at Wimbledon last year, maybe they’re using it at their discretion. I just don’t think that it’s very fair.

It happened to me when I thought I was going to get in because I was the highest ranked player, they were like, ‘the rule has changed, and I was like, what? I was crushed, I couldn’t believe it.

The entire interview is posted HERE.

In his interview Yuki Bhambri reveals the precociousness of youth alongside a mature vision of what he sees for himself as a pro. He has trained in the States and unfortunately has developed an aversion to clay.

Bhagya Ayyavoo: How does it feel to win your maiden ITF Futures title?

Yuki Bhambri: I couldn't have asked for a better start to 2009. First the Australian Open, came up with wildcard for Miami, probably the biggest ATP event after the Grand Slam. I played a close match against world No.70 (Diego Junqueira). And, then the tennis Futures win, to be the youngest Indian to do so. It's great.

BA: How has this transition been for you, from Juniors to the ATP circuit?

YB: I think I have been lucky to be training at the IMG. I have been lucky to play, you know there are lot of good players, lot of higher-ranked players. So, I have been in the atmosphere where I play sets on a regular basis with people ranked higher than me, who are playing in the Futures and Challenger level. I have been consistent and it gives a lot of confidence if you can come out and replicate the same thing in the tournaments. I mean, this is the first step towards the transition. I think it is a long long way and it is a hard grind and hopefully I can be there.

BA: It's been a couple of months since your junior Australian Open triumph. After that, you were looking forward to the Miami event where you got a wildcard. How did that tournament pan out?

YB: That match (against Diego Junqueira) gave me a lot of confidence because I was playing well, I was in that match. I thought I had a great chance of equalizing it or may be take it to the decider, and you never know what happens after that. If you can compete against a world No.70, how hard can it be to compete against a 400 or a 500 ranked player. It is just that extra motivation that was required for believe in myself so that I can do it.

BA: You must have had a fair assessment of the ATP circuit by now. What do you think are the areas that you will have to work on to get better and be a consistent performer on the tour?

YB: Well, right now, I am focusing on playing more tournaments. The more I play, the more matches I get, the more confident I will be on court. The training has been good. I have trained for the last two months. The training aspect has been really really great. I have been focusing on developing my strengths - which is my forehand. The fitness part has been good. I haven't been really tiring on court. It's just a matter of playing more matches and winning them.

BA: How have you been preparing for the clay season?

YB: I wouldn't really be focusing much on clay. I am definitely focusing more on the men's circuit. Now that I know, I can beat good players and I can perform at that level.

BA: What's up for you next, what are the tournaments that you will be playing?

YB: I will be playing the ITF Futures next week as well in Delhi. There's a future next week. It is right here at DLTA (Delhi Lawn Tennis Association). And then I will be going to Kuwait in the middle of May. So, two more Futures.

BA: Are any of those two Futures clay events?

YB: No, not clay.

BA: You are the reigning Australian Open champion, so you can't go into the next Grand Slam - the French Open without any practice on clay. So how are you going to adapt to the new surface if you don't play events on clay?

YB: I will have a couple of days practice on clay.
I think the most important factor at the French Open me will be to get through the first couple of rounds. The earlier I adapt to the surface and how well I adapt to it. You know, like sliding on the court. That's really the main thing. So, the earlier I adapt to it, the better I will get, and I know that. So, it's about focusing and doing that extra bit of training on clay.

BA: So, does that mean no more junior events for you?

YB: I am not looking at playing the juniors any more. You play the juniors to win the Slam. So, there is really no point in playing there. But, I am actually looking forward to the Wimbledon (junior). It's the most prestigious tournament and I definitely want to get that one.

BA: Switching to the Davis Cup tie that was scheduled to be held in Chennai. You made it to the squad for the first time, but unfortunately the tie has been called off. Your thoughts on that?

YB: Well, it's unfortunate. But, it is a bonus for us as well. It would have obviously been a tough tie for us. I was looking forward to it, to be part of the team and watching Hewitt and Guccione play. But, on the other hand, we are in the World Group play-off. One more tie and we are in the World Group.

For the entire interview please go HERE

When I think of Igor Andreev I think seasoned pro. Well known to the serious tennis fan Igor has a dedicated fan base and when he is at his best he plays some of the best tennis around. Igor sat down with Mariya Konovalova of Talk About Tennis and talked about the sport of tennis on the main men's tour.

Currently ranked No. 22 in the world, the Russian sat down with TAT after advancing to the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix Hassan II ATP World Tour tournament in Casablanca, where he was the top seed.

TAT: Igor, can you clarify your coaching situation? You’ve been alone for over a year now. Are you looking?
IA: I’m alone for now. It’s possible that for the period up to Roland Garros someone will be traveling with me, either a physio or someone from Valencia. But so far, I’m OK alone. So, really, I’m not “on a hunt,” such that I must find someone.

Of course, there are moments when you need training, help getting into playing shape, but overall, I’m still pretty satisfied as is.

TAT: And when you’re training in Valencia are you alone there also, or you have someone there?
IA: Well, in Valencia, it’s an academy. I’ve been there a long time, and there are coaches there, guys you can practice with. Same in Moscow. So, things like practices and such, there are no problems with that.
TAT: You did not play in South America this year, whereas you have in the last couple of years. Why did you decide on that?

IA: There are many reasons. First of all, there are technical things like getting visas, and of course, all the traveling, it takes a lot of time. Possibly, next year I will play there, I don’t know. Actually, the tournaments there are really good.

TAT: Can we talk about the transition to the clay season? How long does this process usually take for you? You’ve had difficulties with the first two matches here, is that related to the surface switch?

IA: Well, of course, the surface transition is difficult. Actually, switching to clay is probably even a little more difficult, because it’s a demanding surface. You have to move a lot and really well, and in the beginning, you end up stumbling trying to get the positioning right. Of course, you need time to adjust, and, ideally, time off to train. But, with the schedule we have, I decided to play here; I didn’t have time to train. As I got here, I had to play right away, so it was a little difficult. But, the most important thing is winning, and I can still see some progress.

TAT: Clay is the surface where you’ve had the most success. Do you feel more comfortable on it?

IA: Well, really, these days, I would not say clay is my best surface. I’ve had some good results on hard for awhile. Really, with time, as you play on tour for several years, you get used to all kinds of courts.

TAT: You’ve been ranked around the Top-20 for the last year or so. Do you have any sort of goal for this year?

IA: Well, the goal is just to improve my game. You can’t just look at rankings. It starts with the right shot, and then you’ve won the point, then the game, the match, and so on. Of course, it would be good to get the ranking higher, but you can’t just think about that. What you should be thinking about are just things that will help you hit the ball right, and the rest may come from that.

End Notes

Dinara Safina begins play as the number one woman in the world at Stuttgart this week.

James Blake has already crashed out of Rome losing to Victor Crivoi 7-5 and 6-3. At one point Blake was down 0-5 in the first set. Some fans said Blake looked totally unfazed by his poor play at the beginning of the match but he did recover and make it decent.

Novak Djokovic has hired a new fitness coach. Gebhard Phil-Gritsch of Austria worked famously with Thomas Muster. Speaking of Mr. Djokovic I wonder what he was thinking when he performed this little dance during an exhibition in memory of Federico Luzzi prior to the start of the Rome M1000?

David Nalbandian may have to have surgery on his right hip. The injury forced him out of Barcelona.

Hello and Goodbye: The Fed Cup

by Savannah

The Fed Cup competition this past weekend was anything but boring. In what has to be classed as an upset the "Young and the Restless" team fielded by Captain Mary Jo Fernandez managed to defeat a much more experienced team from the Czech Republic something no one expected. Alexa Glatch made a name for herself during the tie and many wonder if she will be able to continue her success on the tour. I think that Mary Jo has put all doubts about her competency to bed by getting her team to the Finals in what is her maiden voyage. There are rough waters ahead though.

Alexa Glatch
The United States team will face Italy on clay in the Final. Ms Fernandez barely had time to savor her victory before she had to address whether or not she was sticking with her youngsters or calling the big guns, namely Venus Williams and Serena Williams to active duty. Serena played Fed Cup for the United States in 1999, ironically in Italy. Serena has managed to win on clay. Venus is another matter. Captain Fernandez has said she will start her charm offensive immediately. It will be asking a lot of the youngsters to compete on what to them is a foreign surface and in a venue that will be filled with rabid Italian fans. Still they weren't supposed to be competitive in this tie let alone win it. November is a long way off. Let's see what happens between then and now.

Francesca Schiavone
Speaking of the Italians I wonder if it would've made any difference if Vera Zvonareva had been able to play for Russia. To be honest I expected Russia to win the tie 3-2 despite Ms Zvonareva's absence. Phenom Anastasia Palyuchenkova replaced Vera and she'd played well of late. But Francesca Schiavone was not to be denied. She may not be playing well on the tour but when it comes to Fed Cup it's as if she morphs into Superwoman. Only one Russian woman, Svetlana Kuznetsova, was able to win a singles rubber from Italy. It's back to the drawing board for the now legendary Russian Captain Shamil Tarpishev. I don't think losing the rubber 4-1 is what he had in mind.

Shamil Tarpishev
In the World Group Playoffs Serbia routed Spain 4-0. The doubles tie had to be abandoned due to rain. Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic led Serbia into the World Group. Spain sent it's "A" team but it contemplates a different future.

Amelie Mauresmo
Amelie Mauresmo put the French team on her back and won both her singles rubbers and played doubles giving France a 3-2 victory over a determined Slovak Republic. Alize Cornet seems to be struggling under the weight of expectations and lost both of her rubbers.

All of the results are listed below.


ITALY defeated RUSSIA 4-1
Venue: Nova Yardinia, Castellaneta Marina, ITA (clay – outdoors)

Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 64 60
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 16 62 63
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 60 63
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 76(7) 46 62
Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/Nadia Petrova (RUS) 16 63 64

Venue: Starobrno Rondo Arena, Brno, CZE (carpet – indoors)

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 63 76(2)
Alexa Glatch (USA) d. Iveta Benesova (CZE) 61 62
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 63 61
Alexa Glatch (USA) d. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 62 61
Liezel Huber/Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) d. Iveta Benesova/Kveta Peschke (CZE) 26 76(2) 61


SERBIA defeated SPAIN 4-0
Venue: Club de Tennis Lleida, Lleida, ESP (clay - outoors)

Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) 63 64
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 36 61 62
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 63 36 63
Ana Jovanovic (SRB) d. Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) 36 63 76(5)
Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) v Ana Jovanovic/Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 62 10 abandoned due to rain

Venue: Palais des Sports Beaublanc, Limoges, FRA (clay – indoors)

Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. Alize Cornet (FRA) 67(2) 63 64
Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) d. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 46 62 63
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Alize Cornet (FRA) 62 57 64
Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 75 64
Nathalie Dechy/Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) d. Dominika Cibulkova/Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 46 61 64

GERMANY defeated CHINA, P.R. 3-2
Venue: Frankfurter TC 1914 Palmengarten, Frankfurt, GER (clay - outdoors)

Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Jie Zheng (CHN) 64 26 64
Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) d. Shuai Peng (CHN) 46 64 62
Jie Zheng (CHN) d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 75 64
Shuai Peng (CHN) d. Tatjana Malek (GER) 62 26 75
Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Shuai Peng/Jie Zheng (CHN) 46 75 62

Venue: Club Nautico, Mar del Plata, ARG (clay – outdoors)

Mariya Koryttseva (UKR) d. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) 46 75 62
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Maria Irigoyen (ARG) 63 63
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) 61 62
Olga Savchuk (UKR) d. Aranza Salut (ARG) 62 61
Mariya Koryttseva (UKR)/Olga Savchuk (UKR) d. Maria Irigoyen/Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 62 60


BELGIUM defeated CANADA 3-2
Venue: Grenslandhallen - Ethias Arena, Hasselt, BEL (clay – indoors)

Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. Tamaryn Hendler (BEL) 46 75 62
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Stephanie Dubois (CAN) 61 63
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 62 64
Stephanie Dubois (CAN) d. Tamaryn Hendler (BEL) 75 75
Kirsten Flipkens/Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Stephanie Dubois/Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 61 63

ESTONIA defeated ISRAEL 3-2
Venue: Tondi Tennis Club, Tallinn, EST (hard – indoors)

Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Tzipi Obziler (ISR) 61 63
Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Maret Ani (EST) 61 60
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Shahar Peer (ISR) 63 64
Tzipi Obziler (ISR) d. Maret Ani (EST) 46 76(5) 63
Maret Ani/Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Tzipi Obziler/Shahar Peer (ISR) 16 64 86

POLAND defeated JAPAN 3-2
Venue: Tenisowy Klub Sportowy Arka, Gdynia, POL (clay - outdoors)

Ai Sugiyama (JPN) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 63 61
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Akiko Morigami (JPN) 62 61
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Ai Sugiyama (JPN) 76(5) 61
Ayumi Morita (JPN) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 62 64
Klaudia Jans/Alicja Rosolska (POL) d. Ayumi Morita/Ai Sugiyama (JPN) 16 63 63

Venue: Mildura Lawn Tennis Club, Mildura, AUS (grass - outdoors)

Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Amra Sadikovic (SUI) 61 62
Jelena Dokic (AUS) d. Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 76(1) 64
Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 76(2) 57 63
Mateja Kraljevic (SUI) d. Jessica Moore (AUS) 57 64 64
Jelena Dokic/Rennae Stubbs (AUS) v Mateja Kraljevic/Amra Sadikovic (SUI) 63 14 abandoned due to bad light

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sweet Taste of Victory

by Savannah

Rafael Nadal tastes victory at Barcelona for the fifth consecutive time. Rafael defeated David Ferrer in straight sets 6-2 and 7-5. Felicitats Rafa!

Congratulations also go to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic on their doubles win at Barcelona. The pair won in straight sets 6-3 and 7-6(7) over Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles.

Fed Cup World Group Results

It'll be the United States against Italy to decide the winner of the Fed Cup for 2009. Mary Jo Fernandez led her underdog charges to victory over the team from the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile Italy trounced Russia to make the final. In my opinion it's a toss up. The United States isn't even supposed to be in the Final.

I'll do a complete Fed Cup round up tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This and That

by Savannah

From the ITF via
Following Australia's decision not to contest its Davis Cup tie in Chennai because of security concerns, the ITF has officially declared India the winner of the zonal contest. India now advances to September's World Group playoffs.

"The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision of Tennis Australia to default," the ITF said in a statement. "By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie.

"[B]ecause of the specific concerns of Tennis Australia, the ITF [had] asked its independent security consultants, the Olive Group, to make a site visit to Chennai to investigate both the situation on the ground and to assess the security arrangements put in place by AITA [All India Tennis Asociation]. Following the site visit, the Olive Group reported that it was satisfied that the tie could go ahead as planned. Tennis Australia received a copy of the Olive Group report... Following an appeal by Tennis Australia, the ITF Board of Directors voted to uphold the decision of the Davis Cup Committee, after having received complete documentation for review."

I'm not surprised at all by this. Maybe my worldview is more jaded than others but as soon as the first appeal was filed I thought this could happen. The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket players, even though it took place in Pakistan, sent a chill through that part of the world. I totally understand where Australia is coming from but they backed themselves into a corner by raising the security issue. Once that was done their only option was to forfeit the tie.

Good luck to India in September's playoffs.

Roma Masters Draw

[1] NADAL, Rafael ESP vs BYE

[9] TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA vs GASQUET, Richard FRA
ALMAGRO, Nicolas ESP vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
BYE vs [6] VERDASCO, Fernando ESP

[4] MURRAY, Andy GBR vs BYE
KIEFER, Nicolas GER vs i]QUALIFIER[/i]
CHELA, Juan Ignacio ARG vs ROCHUS, Christophe BEL
[WC] CIPOLLA, Flavio ITA vs [15] CILIC, Marin CR

[12] GONZALEZ, Fernando CHI vs CHARDY, Jeremy FRA
BYE vs [7] DAVYDENKO, Nikolay RUS

[5] DEL POTRO, Juan Martin ARG vs BYE
KUNITSYN, Igor RUS vs [10] WAWRINKA, Stanislas SUI

[13] ROBREDO, Tommy ESP vs SAFIN, Marat RUS
BYE vs [3] DJOKOVIC, Novak SRB

[8] SIMON, Gilles FRA vs BYE
MATHIEU, Paul-Henri FRA vs [11] FERRER, David ESP

[16] STEPANEK, Radek CZE vs SERRA, Florent FRA
BYE vs [2] FEDERER, Roger SUI

Qualifying play began today.

Fed Cup News

Both Anna Chakvetadze and Svetlana Kuznetsova were reportedly left hanging at the net by their celebrating Italian opponents Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. DRAHMAH.
The Italians are up 2-0 over Russia.

Meanwhile Alexa Glatch of the United States bested Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic to give the United States an unexpected split of the first two singles rubbers.

You know it's the clay court season when...

The whining starts about the homogenization of surfaces. I remember a mere couple of years ago a player who was an all surface player was the ideal. Now it seems the all surface player is some kind of pariah and needs to be replaced.

As usual the whining centers around Wimbledon. The latest one comes from Victor Lamm of Tennis Week. Here's a sample.

Tennis is a unique game in many ways. It can be played indoor or outdoors; a match can span less than an hour or more than five hours; players can actually lose more points than they win yet still win the match.

One of tennis' top distinctions is that it remains one of the only significant sports played on different surfaces, which encourages diverse games styles. Or so it did.
Grass courts used to yield notoriously fast and low bounces that destabilized even the most potent baseline games.
Players couldn’t hang from the baseline for long and even the most defensive players had to serve and volley in order to stand a chance.
In the aftermath of Pete Sampras' victory over Goran Ivanisevic in a battle of big servers in the Wimbledon final, outcry grew for longer rallies on grass.

The All England Club's grass has become slower every year — as if it were a 55-year-old weekend hacker suffering from herniated discs in his back and blisters on his feet — and hard courts are getting so slow that the ball gets fluffy after a few games.

"What's disappointing about Wimbledon is how much I really don't enjoy playing on grass now because it's changed so much," said four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman, prior to his last appearance at the grass-court Grand Slam. "The grass court has changed massively. They're so much harder and so true, the ball bounces up a lot higher. Here if you're hitting a good shot, you feel like it goes through the court. I think a combination with the grass changing to 100 percent Rye and the's so soft... the ball almost stops and sits up."
But the deeper byproduct of all these surface changes is that Grand Slam surfaces have become more consistent — and less varied — in terms of speed and bounce.
Consider that in the last 30 years 16 different men have won Roland Garros and of those 16 champions, nine never won another Grand Slam title in their career. In that same span, 14 different men have won Wimbledon and 10 of those 14 won other major titles. But only three of those Wimbledon winners — Borg, Nadal and Agassi — also reigned at Roland Garros.

YAWNNNNNNNNNN! Mr. Lamm also misses the days of hard court specialists, clay court specialists and grass court specialists. They're still around. It's just that their distribution can't be made by nationality anymore. It's kind of like The Slob assuming that because Fernando Gonzalez and Juan Martin Del Potro are from South America they're automatically clay court specialists. Gonzalez plays well on clay but he and his game are more at home on a hard court. Hard court specialists? Let's see. There's Andy Roddick, who may not play at all during the clay court season, James Blake and Mardy Fish. I give Sam Querrey and both Bob and Mike Bryan credit for playing the European clay court season. Roddick, who is playing well right now, just pulled out of Rome. Unless he plays one of the ATP 250 events leading up to Roland Garros he's skipping almost the entire season. He'll probably show up at Roland Garros since it's a Slam.

So what is it the whiners want? Do they think that certain players are not "temperamentally fit" to compete and win on certain surfaces? Should we go back to wooden racquets and ignore the effect technology has had on the sport?

I'm sure many of you saw the above picture of Rafael Nadal and Manolo Santana. Mr. Santana was donating the racquet he won Wimbledon with to Rafael's foundation. My first thought was why is Manolo giving Rafa a squash racquet?

People can talk all about the changes in the various surfaces the sport is played on but if you ignore the evolution of the racquet you're just making noise with no substance. I remember that match between Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanesivic. It was boring as hell. Is that what purists want a return to? I think not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

Don't tell Maria Sharapova's agent but apparently the idea that black is beautiful has hit Asia.

The Cups - Davis and Fed

Todd Woodbridge is blasting the ITF for it's certification that India is safe enough for the Davis Cup tie between that country and Australia to be held.

Australia’s most capped Davis Cup player has accused the International Tennis Federation of being irresponsible for insisting the May 8-10 Davis Cup match against India go ahead as planned in Chennai.

Todd Woodbridge, who helped Australia win the Davis Cup and played in a national-record 32 matches, said the ITF shouldn’t expect the match to go ahead in Chennai when other international sports events were being canceled or moved abroad due to regional tensions.

“The main thing right now in India is that there are elections underway—there’s been deaths because of these elections in other parts of India, not in Chennai where this tie will be played,” Woodbridge told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday. “But how can we expect our team to go and play in India when everybody else in that region is pulling out?

“I think it’s irresponsible for the ITF to expect us as players to go there and put ourselves on the line in a very, very difficult predicament with the way their social system’s running.”
Australia has again appealed that decision.

Woodbridge, who retired in 2005 after winning an ATP record 83 men’s doubles titles, including 16 at Grand Slams and the 1996 Olympic gold medal, said Australia risked a ban if it opted out of the Asia-Oceania zonal match against India, and that could end former top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt’s chances of representing his country again.

Lleyton Hewitt has already pulled out saying that this is the European clay court season and that it would be too much for him to practice on hard courts and go back to the dirt.

Meanwhile the Fed Cup is being held this weekend. Good luck to all the women playing. I don't think the United States team is going to do so well though. I hope I'm wrong.


Venue: Nova Yardinia, Castellaneta Marina, ITA (clay – outdoors)

Flavia Pennetta
Francesca Schiavone
Sara Errani
Roberta Vinci
Captain: Corrado Barazzutti

Vera Zvonareva
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Nadia Petrova
Anna Chakvetadze
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev

Venue: Starobrno Rondo Arena, Brno, CZE (carpet – indoors)

Czech Republic
Iveta Benesova
Petra Kvitova
Lucie Safarova
Kveta Peschke
Captain: Petr Pala

Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Liezel Huber
Melanie Oudin
Alexa Glatch
Captain: Mary-Joe Fernandez


Venue: Club de Tennis Lleida, Lleida, ESP (clay - outoors)

Anabel Medina Garrigues
Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez
Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
Nuria Llagostera Vives
Captain: Miguel Margets

Jelena Jankovic
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Jovanovic
Alexandra Krunic
Captain: Dejan Vranes

Venue: Palais des Sports Beaublanc, Limoges, FRA (clay – indoors)

Alize Cornet
Amelie Mauresmo
Nathalie Dechy
Mathilde Johansson
Captain: Nicolas Escude

Slovak Republic
Dominika Cibulkova
Daniela Hantuchova
Magdalena Rybarikova
Lenka Wienerova
Captain: Matej Liptak

Venue: Frankfurter TC 1914 Palmengarten, Frankfurt, GER (clay - outdoors)

Sabine Lisicki
Anna-Lena Groenefeld
Kristina Barrois
Tatjana Malek
Captain: Barbara Rittner

China, P.R.
Jie Zheng
Peng Shuai
Jing-Jing Lu
Tian-Tian Sun
Captain: Qi Zhang

Venue: Club Nautico, Mar del Plata, ARG (clay – outdoors)

Betina Jozami
Jorgelina Cravero
Aranza Salut
Paula Ormaechea
Captain: Ricardo Rivera

Alona Bondarenko
Kateryna Bondarenko
Mariya Koryttseva
Olga Savchuk
Captain: Volodymyr Bogdanov


Venue: Grenslandhallen - Ethias Arena, Hasselt, BEL (clay – indoors)

Yanina Wickmayer
Kirsten Flipkens
Tamaryn Hendler
An-Sophie Mestach
Captain: Sabine Appelmans

Aleksandra Wozniak
Stephanie Dubois
Sharon Fichman
Valerie Tetreault
Captain: Rene Collins

Venue: Tondi Tennis Club, Tallinn, EST (hard – indoors)

Kaia Kanepi
Maret Ani
Margit Ruutel
Anett Schutting
Captain: Rene Busch

Shahar Peer
Tzipi Obziler
Julia Glushko
Keren Shlomo
Captain: Lior Mor

Venue: Tenisowy Klub Sportowy Arka, Gdynia, POL (clay - outdoors)

Agnieszka Radwanska
Urszula Radwanska
Alicja Rosolska
Klaudia Jans
Captain: Tomasz Wiktorowski

Ai Sugiyama
Ayumi Morita
Rika Fujiwara
Akiko Morigami
Captain: Takeshi Murakami

Venue: Mildura Lawn Tennis Club, Mildura, AUS (grass - outdoors)

Samantha Stosur
Jelena Dokic
Jessica Moore
Rennae Stubbs
Captain: David Taylor

Stefanie Voegele
Nicole Riner
Mateja Kraljevic
Amra Sadikovic
Captain: Christiane Jolissaint

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

L'Equipe reports that former French Open Champion Gaston Gaudio has asked for a WC into the French Open. Link is in French

Spain has passed a law saying that drug testing of athletes cannot take place between the hours of 11p and 8a. The decree applies to foreign athletes resident or training in the country.

The AELTC held a press conference this morning announcing the following:

  • Prize money has been increased 13.3% to £850,000 for both the men's and women's champion. Total prize money is now £12,550,000..

  • The new roof will take 8-10 mins to close. 20-30 minutes will be needed to produce right indoor climate.

  • Day will start with roof open. Decision to close the roof will be made 45 minutes before play is scheduled to start.

  • Refs will have the option of covering the court as opposed to closing the roof.

  • The old "Graveyard" Court #2 is now Court #3. There is a new Court 2.

  • Ground capacity has increased from 36,500 to 40,000.

  • There will now be no fixed end of play factored into the schedule according to this BBC Report

Here are some images of the new roof released by the AELTC

Ian Ritchie CEO of the AELTC

Eddie Seaward Head Groundsman

I may criticize the AELTC for some of their actions but they get nothing but praise from me for how they handle their media and their live streaming. They're the best in the business.
The last image I posted got me thinking. The USTA has said that it will be very difficult to put a roof on Arthur Ashe stadium. Let's not forget the British started this project a couple of years ago knowing the rainy weather could cause difficult scheduling problems. With the financial world in turmoil I don't doubt that its hard to raise capital to finance the building of a roof on Ashe but that isn't the reason being cited. It's being said that because of the size of Ashe it would be hard to cover the outsized stadium. It has also been said the shape could be a deterrent. Look at that last image again. I'm just sayin'.

Gael Monfils may miss the French Open due to his ongoing knee problems.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Dirt Gets Its Due

by Savannah

Love is in the air. Is it because all eyes in the tennis world are on Paris France? Or is it because the scales have finally fallen from the eyes of those who are paid the set the tone for all dialog on tennis in the United States? As I've said ad nauseam clay court tennis is the best tennis. I'm not going into the why's and wherefore's again. I welcome the great article written by Steve Tignor in which he finally gives the terre battue it's due.

I'd also like to point readers to a smaller opinion outlet that decries the state of clay court tennis in the state of California making the same points I've made in the past.

We are talking about (California) a tennis powerhouse with huge participation numbers, a myriad of tournaments, where intercollegiate tennis thrives like nowhere else in America. We are talking about a storied past with legedary champions but a dwindling furture in the elite ranks of this most international of sports.

Why doesn't the state of California have more clay courts? Clay does not exist and the few who are priviledged enough to have access are reaping the benefits. They play longer they play healthier and their children develop a wll rounded game. So what could possibly stop facilities from adding clay to what they have to offer?


I must also point out that there was a time when the majority of courts in the United States were red clay. It's not a secret as to why this changed and I published the article laying this out a couple of years ago.

The same SOURCE cited above, in another post, makes the following points about clay court play.

1. Spin trumps power – It just doesn’t matter if you can hit the ball harder than the person across the net on a clay court. Hard shots are slowed down by the surface and sit up rather nicely in a player’s hitting zone. Even the hardest shots are typically chased down and returned – at least at the pro level. Spin on the other hand neutralizes the opponent. A well hit top spin shot (a “heavy” ball) bounds off the clay surface with such speed and height that countering offensively is not consistently possible.

2. Use the forehand to dominate the point – The forehand can be hit with greater spin and disguise than the backhand and you can handle the high bounce more effectively. Don’t hit backhands. Step around them and allow the forehand to control the middle of the court and dictate the point. Stand as far back as you need to, run as far around as you need to, don’t hit backhand returns on any second serves, DON’T HIT BACKHANDS!

3. Be ready to transition from defense to offense - Most clay court points are played with the players 5-8’ behind the baseline. This allows the ball to drop and provides additional time so players can generate better spin. When on defense players will stand back as far as they need to in order to chase the next shot down. The key that Garcia Lopez made clear is that when use of 1 & 2 above produce a short ball you should immediately be on or inside the baseline to press the advantage. By moving up you allow your opponent less recovery time, increase the angles you can create, and open up the option of hitting a drop shot.

'Nuff said.

Monday, Monday

by Savannah

Per Antoni Nadal his nephew's fifth consecutive win at Monte Carlo was nice but he can do better.
"He played a good third set, but it's obvious he must play better than this week," said Nadal senior.
"He was missing a little confidence in his game and you could see that his serve was incredibly weak. But it's the first tournament on clay this season for him and I hope that with some more matches, it'll get better.
"We know that there's a lot of work to do before Roland-Garros. But he still won. It's a very important tournament for us and to win for a fifth time is incredible."

Meanwhile Jose Higueras has said that his former charge needs to change.
“When you stop improving, you deteriorate; in tennis it’s always like this” says the coach, who was prohibited by contract to speak about the Swiss last year. “But Federer continues just as before. His backhand, which today seems weak, is good, but the players have grown accustomed to it and that’s why it’s less effective, now it seems to play worse.”
Roger’s immobility contrasts with Nadal’s aptitude for reinvention. “In two years, (Nadal) is a completely new player, he has improved and changed his style. Federer keeps on being the same: now others can attack him. He has stagnated.”

It’s not only a problem of competition, but also of philosophy. “Tactics always work better if they win - it’s a question of confidence. Federer can improve his style of play, he doesn’t always use the most appropriate style. When I was with him, he played two brilliant matches, the semifinals and final of the US Open.”
“He was aggressive, he approached the net well, he was very fast, that’s why he won, this is the way he always has to be.” Higueras says on Federer’s current game, which has problems of strategy when he doesn’t cover the backhand, his worst shot, to optimize his resources. “The backhand has always served him well, it is a big shot, but the players know it. His forehand is more devastating and more difficult to defend,” says Higueras.

Thanks to the good people at the GoToTennis blog for the translation of the original article in Spanish. They provide a link to the original article.

There was also a flurry of anticipation about pictures of Roger Federer's wedding being available to the public. A Swiss publication made a donation to the Roger Federer Foundation for the rights. The Swiss newspaper Blick reports that Roger wore a Tom Ford suit, and that Mirka wore an Oscar de la Renta dress. Once again thanks to the gototennis blog for the scans.

Dinara Safina officially becomes the WTA number one today. Some feel that Dinara's statement regarding her ascension to number one was too self effacing. I think it was honest. She knows she has not been the best player this year and that she is for now Slamless. There's no pleasing everyone. She is number one based on her point total alone. If anyone has any doubt who the players feel are the top of the heap check out Sabine Lisicki's reaction to beating Venus Williams in Charleston last week. At any rate here is the WTA top ten.
1 (2)
2 (1)
3 (3)
4 (4)
5 (5)
6 (6)
7 (7)
8 (8)
9 (9)
10 (10)

The woman I thought was going to challenge for the top position, Vera Zvonareva severely twisted her ankle last week and is back in Russia for a complete evaluation.

End Notes
American gossip site has published unofficial pictures of Andy Roddick's wedding to Brooklyn Decker. Here are a few.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shining Stars

by Savannah

Rafael Nadal is the first man to win Monte Carlo five years in a row. Some saw his falling to the terre battue in joy as an excessive celebration. Others saw it for what it was - celebrating the red dirt that he's once again taken the measure of. Congratulations to Rafael and his team.

There were American men in Monte Carlo. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan made the finals of the doubles competition losing to the team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic. Congratulations to Nenad and Daniel.

Meanwhile in Barcelona defending champion Maria Kirilenko went down to defeat at the hands of journeywoman Roberta Vinci. Roberta has been playing very well of late. Congratulations to her.

German teenager Sabine Lisicki made some noise on the tour last year but her play was inconsistent and she was looked at as a work in progress by many tennisheads. Long time fans of Venus Williams looked askance at their favorite having to face Lisicki, the type of opponent that has given Venus problems in the past. After Sabine beat Venus some thought she would, like others, promptly lose her next match. Sabine had other plans though and beat Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. And trust me she beat her. It wouldn't have mattered if Caroline had had sufficient rest. Sabine came to take names and she did.

The competition moves to the red clay of Europe now. Let's see if Sabine delivers on the promise she showed today.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova won the Doubles Championship at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Laureus Awards Ceremony Cancelled

by Savannah

Edwin Moses Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy has announced the following:

This year's Laureus Awards ceremony is being scrapped because of the global economic crisis, organisers said shortly after announcing Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps were among the nominees for the top men's prize.

The lavish, televised ceremony was held in Monaco from 2000 to 2003, moved to Lisbon in 2004, Barcelona from 2005 to 2007 and St Petersburg, Russia, last year.

"Laureus and its partners have made the decision that due to the current economic situation it would be inappropriate to stage a full-scale Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony at this time," Laureus said.

The winners will receive their awards individually at presentations in May and June, Laureus said.

"This has been a difficult decision, but we are aware of the global problems caused by the current economic difficulties," Laureus World Sports Academy chairman Edwin Moses said.

"It seemed to us, with so many people suffering, that this was the wrong time to be staging this event. This is the responsible thing to do and we are sure everyone will understand why we are doing this."

Moses also said the economic situation will be monitored over the next months and that organisers would announce "in due course the arrangements for the next Laureus World Sports Awards".

Tennis stars nominated include Rafael Nadal for Sportsman of the Year and Venus Williams for Sportswoman of the Year and both Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic for Breakthrough of the Year.


Craig Hickman reports on the marriage of Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker. Best of luck to them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

So here's one mans summary of and solution forRoger Federer's problems.
OK, so let's play along with this. Federer's back is a mess; the guy can barely get out of bed in the morning. Rafael Nadal is in his head, Novak Djokovic is in his face, and Andy Murray is in his kitchen, stealing the silverware. What's a guy to do? The answer is obvious: take some time off. Go get yourself healthy, clear your head, get rid of that tummy and return with a strong back, fire in your eyes and a good hate on for Nadal, Djokovic and company.

All of this after suggesting that Roger was forced into playing Monte Carlo by Rolex. No proof of course, just a supposition. Here's the Source for the rest of the article.

This and That

Tennis Ticker reports that the ITF has ruled against Australia in it's attempt to move their DC match from Chennai. In a statement regarding the tie set to be played May 8-10 the ITF indicates that their security evaluation shows no pending danger.

Gael Monfils has withdrawn from Barcelona due to tendonitis in his knees. His countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also withdrawn from the event. Richard Gasquet feels his shoulder is well enough for him to play. I read that Gael had tried some non traditional medical approaches to his injuries and may now be the worst for it. Jo-Wilfried has chronic back problems and it's virtually impossible for him to play a full schedule.

In an "oh really" development Belgian Carl Maes stepped down as head of women's tennis for the Lawn Tennis Association citing personal reasons.

China's outspoken Li Na stated the following in an interview that appeared in the China Daily 04/15/2009 page23

"Just give them (young athletes) the right to choose," Li told China Daily before traveling to Germany to prepare for China's Fed Cup tie and the ensuing clay-court season.

"If I had an opportunity to choose what I wanted to do in childhood, I wouldn't go for tennis. It is a sport that I was always pushed to do, first by my parents, then provincial and national sports administrators."

Ms Li has led the fight in China for athletes to keep more of their prize money and appears to have won that right for her peers. Reading this still makes me sad though.

End Notes

Serena Williams and Common at New Years In April: A Fools Fete in New York City 4/16/2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Match Fixing Part Deux

by Savannah

The whispers getting louder...again.

Charles Happell reports the following:

The spectre of the dreaded "m" word -- match-fixing -- continues to linger over tennis following an extraordinary round-one match in the Monte Carlo Masters this week.

The ATP match in question -- which has been the subject of vigorous debate and speculation on online tennis betting forums -- was played between Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello and Russia’s Igor Andreev on Tuesday.

During the match, the unusual flow of money for Vassallo Arguello, ranked No.69 in the world, meant he was rated as the favourite even after he had lost the first set, 6-2, to the 21st-ranked Russian.

Andreev opened as a $1.35 favourite on Betfair, the online betting exchange, and around $1.33, or 1/3 in the old terminology, with bookies around the world. Many handicappers had Adreev over the odds to dispose of his opponent -- yet money poured in late for the Argentinean.

Despite winning the first set convincingly, Andreev’s odds on Betfair were listed at $2.10, or 10/9, an unbelievable price considering he was the higher-ranked player and had already gone one set ahead.
The second set started with Vassallo Arguello getting an early break to go up 2-0, but Andreev -- in defiance of the betting trends -- got the upper hand to such an extent that he served for the match at 5-4 and 40-0. With three match points on his serve, Andreev seemingly had the match in the bag.

At this point, Betfair was betting $25.0 or $26.0 on Vassallo Arguello -- in layman’s terms, that means the Argentine was available at 25/1 and there were takers at this price even though realistically, in such a dire predicament, he should have been at 250/1 or longer.

But Vassallo Arguello staged a magnificent comeback to stave off those three match points and force the set into a tie-breaker. Andreev served two double-faults in the tie-breaker but still found himself serving with a 5-4 lead. He lost the next three points, however, and the set.

In the third set, Vassallo Arguello barely raised a sweat in clinching it, 6-2, and the match.

Betfair has paid out on this week’s Monte Carlo result. There may be an innocent explanation for the betting trends, and perhaps the result was no more than a neat coincidence. But one wonders what the ATP made of it, and whether their crack anti-corruption squad will swing into action any time soon.

One fansite is reporting rumors about other matches as well but there are no links.

April Showers

by Savannah

The above picture would be the story of the day except for a guy named Stanislas Wawrinka from Switzerland. He got a straight set win over his countryman Roger Federer. It looked at times that Stan's nerve would not hold and that he'd find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Instead he held his focus and his wits and got the biggest win of his career to date.

Stan has been building toward this point for some time. We saw glimpses of his competitive spirit at Indian Wells but this battle took place on the red clay of the Monte Carlo Country Club/ Intermittent rain added to the atmosphere.

Meanwhile Italian Fabio Fognini went up 5-0 on
Andy Murray before crashing to earth and losing the first set in a TB before the rains washed out the rest of the day's play.

While the rain ruled in France I wonder if Venus Williams was looking for some kind of reprieve. Venus had trouble with her serve the entire match but young Sabine Lisicki of Germany was not going to let her off the hook and played with no fear as she took Venus out in straight sets. Lisicki has now beaten both Lindsay Davenport and Venus.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, Monday

by Savannah

I took a day off yesterday what with it being Easter and having some company over. I ended up watching Golf's Masters and seeing Tiger Woods lose the tournament on the 17th hole while watching Lleyton Hewitt defeat Wayne Odesnik on the PC via a feed I subscribe to. There are certain players I can't watch play and Hewitt is one of them.

Juan Carlos Ferrero returned the the place he won his first ATP title and showed that his tennis life is not over. Appearing to be healthy physically now he maintained his focus and defeated France's Florent Serra. I saw the beginning and the end of the match. He won't be playing in Monaco this week but he has been gratnted a Wild Card into Barcelona.

With all the seeds out by midweek the final at Houston was played between first time finalist Wayne Odesnik and tour veteran Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt was the odds on favorite going into this match and he didn't disappoint his fans.

With a hobbled Serena Williams crashing out early Marbella was Jelena Jankovic's to lose. She faced local favorite Carla Suarez Navarro in the final and needed three sets to beat her. This is Jankovic's first title this year.

Caroline Wozniacki romped to the title at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida winning easily against Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak. It's her fourth WTA title.

Double Victors

Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska were the winning team in Marbella.

Chuang, Chia-Jung and Sania Mirza won the doubles title at Ponte Vedra Beach.

Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach took home the doubles crown in Casablanca

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the doubles championship in Houston.

End Notes
Elena Dementieva is the top seed in Charleston this week. This is a Premier WTA event but it comes on the heels of Indian Wells, the SonyEricsson Open and the new tournaments at Marbella and Ponte Vedra. Elena was granted a wild card into the tournament.
The other WTA event is in Barcelona and features young French star Alize Cornet as the top seed.

The European clay season got underway yesterday in what I still say is the most beautiful venue in tennis Monte Carlo. All of the top ten are there with one exception, American Andy Roddick. He will not suffer any penalty thanks to what the Europeans call the "American Rule" that applies this Master's event making it "Special". Andy is not the only man taking advantage of the rule though. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, James Blake, Fernando Gonzalez, Mardy Fish and Dmitry Tursunov are all skipping what is normally a required event without penalty. Andy Roddick is said to be getting married this weekend so he does have an excuse no?

Why are so many of Roger Federer's fans looking for reason's why he got married this past weekend in a private ceremony? Do we really need labored analysis of Swiss marriage and birth patterns? Did they think he was going to dump Mirka for someone more appropriate in their eyes? I just don't get it.

As every woman knows when the going gets tough the tough go shopping. Serena Williams is no exception to that rule. I love these candids I found posted on the Great Tennis Photo's blog.